Valuing the Tutor Constable
Money in policing is tight. No denying that. It used to be that cops that tutored other cops in Scotland received an extra payment in recognition of their efforts. In many forces, including my own, this has fallen by the wayside; Considered unaffordable and sadly, not a priority to retain.
Tutoring is tough. It takes a lot of effort to teach a brand new cop and tutors take on a lot of responsibility for keeping probationers safe and shouldering the decision-making burden of all the calls they attend together.
In Scotland we take a pretty traditional approach to tutoring probationers. On the West Coast at least, a probationer has a tutor for the entirety of their 2 years probation. We double crew by default up here and the probationer’s Sergeants take a lot of time over the selection of a tutor for a new cop, to partner them with someone we think will get the best out of them. We progressively decrease the experience of the tutor as the experience of the probationer increases, changing around every 6 months. This is the theory anyway. It’s sometimes constrained by the level of experience you have on shift and to be frank, the suitability of some officers to tutor.
This got a mate and I talking the other day as we were planning for the arrival of a new probationer as to what we can and should do locally to look after the cops that we ask to step up to the plate and take on the tutoring responsibility. We came up with some ideas about recognition and reward that I feel will allow us to show we value the commitment of these officers.
Recognition and Reward
I was thinking though, this really shouldn’t be left to local leadership to sort out. Whilst I appreciate there are few financial options available to us (but options none the less – more about that later), there has to be some non-financial benefits we can put together in a package that shows these great cops how much the organisation values them. Lets look at what a package like this might look like.
Training The Trainer. Firstly, if we are going to ask cops to coach and train other officers we shouldn’t be leaving this to chance. We should invest training time in them and this training time should be accredited to national standards. A free additional qualification for the tutor officer. My own force conducts a National Tutors Course that has recently been revised but I do think perhaps we missed a trick as we didn’t align it with any national accreditation. There any many workplace trainer courses to accredit our excellent training to or alternatively we could accredit to tertiary coaching and mentoring courses. Either of these can potentially also contribute to our Sergeant’s promotion requirement – The Diploma in Police Service Leadership and Management.
Priority Promotion Training Access. It is completely feasible that tutor constables could be offered priority access to loading on our Diploma in Police Service Leadership and Management if they aspire to promotion. And why shouldn’t they? We have entrusted the leadership of new cops to them, surely we have faith that they can develop and transfer these successful leadership skills into frontline supervision? We could apply other filters to this, such as a successful period of tutoring, if we wish.
Additional Training. Many tutor cops may not wish to seek promotion but will have areas of expertise they wish to develop. Giving them priority access to courses suited to their own development is a very reasonable reward for their service and costs us nothing.
Non-training related benefits. There is no reason we can’t also add a number of smaller, yet welcome benefits in addition such as:
- Allowing Tutor Cops to pick their preferred leave sub group.
- Prioritising their re-rostered rest days.
- Granting additional special leave.
A set of benefits like those above are tangile rewards for committment.
Money? Why not? At 10 years service we allow cops to apply for Competency Related Threshold Payment (CRTP). An extra £1000 odd pounds a year. Surely however if we are saying a cop is competent to teach others and decided to invest in training them to do so we are saying they have reached a level of competency that meets our CRTP standard? Perhaps we should allow cops who have completed Tutor Constable training and a period of successful tutoring early access to CRTP on the basis of a set of clear criteria?
Investing in Leaders
Whether our tutor constables aspire to promotion or not, they are police leaders and deserve recognition, investment and reward for stepping up to the plate and contributing to the success of the organisation. Putting together a package that reflects this doesn’t need to be expensive or complex. But it does need to happen if we want to show we value our great tutor cops.